Sunset Mercantile is an opportunity for the community to come together, enjoying a day of music, food, shopping, and children’s activities. It’s a pop-up festival at Francis Scott Key Elementary and Pi Day 2015 was the second run; an event coordinator told us the goal is to make this a quarterly event.
There was a set list of musicians and story tellers throughout the day, but in the first hour we listened to a variety of competing music warming up: the capoeira booth had a batch of percussion instruments against the middle school choir doing scales, and passing car radios staccato’d by every now and then. Perfect weather accompanied our ambling among the vendor canopies, featuring artisan foods, handmade housewares and jewelry, non-profit representatives, and produce stands.
One vendor who particularly caught our eye was Lexie with her Dino-Mite! collection from Arcata, who makes mugs, printed towels, and essentially any craft she dreams of. The scenes within books are captivating, and the dinosaur mugs absolutely adorable! She makes mugs for her friend’s coffee shop but the patrons’ kids liked them too, so she started making smaller sizes (for hot chocolate, surely not coffee!). She was sharing her booth with her cousin of Andytown Coffee Roasters, offering samples of deliciously dark coffee.
We took this in while waiting for Adam’s Grub Truck to warm up. They knew we were coming for Zach to try the Ultimate Adam Bomb challenge.
Six pounds in 30 minutes, featuring six slices of bread, grilled chicken, fried chicken, spam, pulled pork, bacon, eggs, waffle fries, dinosaur chicken nuggets, coleslaw, cheese, and sauces, a majestic tower of street food staples. Zach had heart that he would triumph.
He started really strong, taking out the top layer quickly, but soon found that there was more spam than anticipated. There’s nothing wrong with spam in our book, but, well, this was a lot of salty meat.
Avocado was a surprise ingredient, a food Zach can handle in conservative moderation, so he separated the “not my favorite” parts in order to figure out how to tackle them later.
Getting caught up in eating and forgetting about the “not my favorites,” Zach hit a little wall and began to doubt his ability to finish.
He started to pair small portions from each paper bowl so as to knock down the pile of “not my favorites,” but in the end, the Ultimate Adam Bomb claimed another opponent.
For his second attempt at a food challenge, he did not do so bad. Part of what did him in were his personal preferences for ingredients, but taking on a challenge is not meant to be easy. Had it been an hour, or had there not been avocado, it would have been a slam dunk. The fun, though, is looking your opponent straight in the eye, muttering “I’m going to eat you,” and giving it your all no matter the outcome.
A slice of bread is too plain. A baguette is a bit too fancy. Cornbread could work to accompany a hearty oxtail stew, but this Navajo fry bread is better. It is so simple, though, it can pair with many entrees, and even be an entree itself – drizzle a bit of honey, and you’ve got a nice breakfast pastry!
Enough peanut oil to fill a skillet 1/2″ deep
3 1/3 cups of all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups of warm water
1 tbs. of baking powder
1 1/2 tsp. of kosher salt
Sift together the flour and baking powder. Put this mixture in the bowl of a KitchenAid stand mixer. Add the salt to the bowl with the flour, and attach a dough hook to the KitchenAid. Slowly pour in the water while mixing on speed 2, and mix for 4 minutes. Transfer to a lightly floured wooden cutting board and knead for roughly 1 minute before shaping the dough into a smooth ball. Lightly oil the mixing bowl you had the dough in previously, then transfer the ball back to the bowl. Let it rest in the refrigerator for 1 hour to relax the gluten.
Fill a large cast iron skillet about 1/2″ deep with peanut oil, and heat to 350 degrees F over medium heat. Take the dough ball from the fridge and cut into quarters.
Roll out each of the quarters so that each is no thicker than 1/4″ and no thinner than 1/8″. Use a little pinch of flour on the surface or the rolling pin as necessary for dusting, to keep the dough from sticking where it shouldn’t. Cut a slit in the center of each rolled-out dough piece if you want them to stay flat. If you don’t put a slit in it, you must use a deep fryer so that the dough maintains its shape.
Carefully lay the bread in the skillet and cook only one at a time, about 3 minutes on each side until golden and crispy. Use tongs to flip and remove from the oil. Let drain on a towel before serving.
Anyone who isn’t a fan of banana bread ought to give pumpkin bread a try. It’s easy to make since it doesn’t require proofing like regular bread, it’s a good source of potassium that is not too short of what a banana provides, and right now, pumpkin is locally in season. This recipe makes enough for six small loafs, ideal for spreading the pumpkin love with family, friends, and coworkers.
Makes 6 small loafs (5 1/2″-ish by 3″-ish by 2″-ish)
3 cups of all-purpose flour
2 3/4 cups of vanilla’d sugar
2 cups of pumpkin puree
1 cup of melted butter or canola oil (use butter for richer bread, but oil will keep it more tender for longer)
4 large eggs
1/2 cup of water
2 tsp. of baking soda
2 tsp. of ground ginger
2 tsp. of vanilla extract
1 tsp. of cinnamon
1/2 tsp. of baking powder
1/2 tsp. of ground nutmeg
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Sift together the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon, baking powder, and nutmeg in a bowl. In another bowl, mix the melted butter (or oil) and sugar with a hand mixer until well combined. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing until smooth. Quickly and fully mix in the vanilla extract and the pumpkin puree , then briskly mix in the water to combine.
Add the sifted flour to the wet ingredients and keep mixing with the hand mixer, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary to get all the ingredients together.
Spray six “1 lb” loaf tins with nonstick spray. The simplest way to divide the batter is with an ice cream scoop. Place the tins on a sheet pan for ease of transferring to and from the oven. Bake for 52-56 minutes. Let cool completely before depanning.